Thursday, August 6, 2009

Great Hites # 64


This week have stories by:
Norval Joe <--------- This week's WinnerWinner
Eric Moseman
Jeff Hite

Things that we talked about:
Werewolfnews Thank you for the mention
Geek Survival Guide Thank you for all the attention we hope you come back soon Rick
100 word stories weekly contest This week's prompt for them is the walls shuttered.

"Run for Cover"
By Norval Joe

Shirley came out of her room and headed for the front door.
"Shirley, where do you think you're going?" Her mother asked.
She rolled her eyes, crossed her arms across her chest, and huffed, "To the party. You know that. You already said that I could go."
"Yes. I know I did say you could go. But not dressed like that. Did you forget to put something on? Or did you leave it off on purpose?"
"Everyone dresses like this. If I don't then everyone will think I'm stupid." It was her mothers turn to roll her eyes, fold her arms and huff.
"Everyone will think you care about how you look. Look at you. You have pieces hanging out where everyone will see them. This look says, 'I don't care who I am.'"
Shirley looked down at herself. "How can you say I don't care who I am? All my parts look good. They're new and clean. Well, most of them are new, but they're all clean."
"Yes, they are clean, but they are hanging out! What would you think if I walked around with my parts hanging out, or your father?"
"Mother! Yuck! Don't be disgusting. At your age, I'm sure your wires are faded. I wouldn't go topless if mine were faded."
Her mother palmed her blush sensor, to achieve the proper appearance of offence. "Well. Be that as it may. When you let a young man under your chest plate he can touch some delicate sensors. That will change them forever, and they will never feel the same. It can be a beautiful thing with the right man.
"If you let too many in, or treat it casually, that special feeling will dull and you probably won't be able to find it again with anyone.
"Going out like you are gives the boys the wrong idea. That you're willing to put out without commitment. When a young man starts messing with your circuits with out commitment, someone is going to get shorted out. And let me promise you something, it won't be him. He won't even remember it in the morning."
"Oh, mother, you are so old fashioned. None of my friends think I'm loose. They wouldn't take advantage of me." Shirley countered again, but her voice betrayed a hint of doubt.
"Shirley, I'm sorry, you can't tell me that. When those boys get all wound up and their heat sinks can't dissipate fast enough, it will be your cpu that gets crashed. Please, go back up stairs and put a chest plate on. Try that pretty new one, with the vertical air vents. You'll have just as much fun at the party. Your friends will respect you, and you'll have respect for yourself in the morning." Shirley's mother put her arm around her shoulder and squeezed. "I love you, baby girl."
"Oh, Mother. Don't call me that. I'm too old." Shirley said. Regardless, she went back up stairs and found the chest plate that her mother had suggested.

The next morning at the breakfast table, Shirley's mother asked, "How was the party, dear? We're you terribly embarrassed?"
"No. Of course not. There were others that were just as covered up as I was. We did talk a lot about parents being uptight and controlling." Shirley smiled and turned her sarcasm filter down 25 percent.
"Oh, and you were right. Some of the boys did get kind of overheated. One guy. What a jerk. His cooling fan was stuck, or something, because he confused a bottle of soda for spray lube. After he dumped it on a bunch of us that were sitting at a network hub, I was glad I had the chest plate on. Three of the girls who were, um, over exposed, got shorted and had to be taken to maintenance for cleaning and reprogramming. That had to hurt."
Shirley's mother looked down at her where she sat. "You know, that was an unexpected coincidence. That type of thing wasn't the worst that could happen."
"I know mom," Shirley said as she stood. "I hate to say that you are right, but I would have felt uncomfortably out of place last night, with my parts hanging out. I wouldn't have enjoyed the party at all for the constant worry of what people were looking at, and how did they perceive me. How did they judge me. Fact is, it was safer, and just plain easier, keeping covered."

A Girl Discovers Modesty Is Not Such A Bad Thing After All
By Eric Moseman

"You are such a prude, Terry," said Samantha, and a chorus of giggles from the other girls burst forth. "Do you see anyone else wearing jeans and a sweater here?" she asked, with an emphasis on the word "see." The word somehow conveyed sarcasm, superiority, repulsion, and friendship all at the same time, and could only be used by an actress with years of acting school and practice, or by almost any teenage girl in America.

Samantha had on her favorite shorts. The word "PINK" was written across the back, complete with stars for emphasis. The shorts themselves were a purple color found nowhere in nature, but more likely in a sunset on some alien world. In Sam's own words, they were, "so short, but not too short." She had often explained to Terry that they were so short boys could not help but notice, but not too short that she could not wear them to school. In Terry's mind, they left nearly nothing to the imagination. She would not even wear them as pajamas. "Maybe I am a prude," thought Terry.

Izzy, who swore she would kill anyone who ever called her Isadore, and Olivia decided this would be the perfect time to try her relatively new verbal tool sarcasm. "Izzy, I wish I had a sweater like that, except maybe a more putrid shade of green." Izzy, not usually one to catch on to these little jabs quickly, did so this time. "Oh, I know Liv, putrid goes with any color or pattern." The words dripped with sarcasm, but somehow Terry knew that they were only in fun. She chimed in, "I just happen to have two putrid sweaters you could borrow when school is back in. One is baby poop brown - just your color . . . Isadore." There was that emphasis again. More laughter erupted into the air, along with sing-song "Isadore," and "Eww . . . school!" for good measure.

There were about a dozen girls on this summer camping trip, ranging in age from twelve to fifteen. Sam and Olivia, the de facto leaders of the crowd, had somehow convinced the adult chaperones to set up their camp far away, "like a hundred yards far, if not farther" as Samantha had bluntly put it. The park itself was safe, and they set the girls up far enough away from other campers so as not to offend the more faint of heart, but close enough to the girls that major catastrophes, such as a fashion disaster, could be prevented. Samantha's father James wondered amusedly what a group of young girls in the wild might be called. "Gaggle" was close, but not quite. "Herd" connoted a large, stupid group of dull animals, and these girls, as most, were certainly not stupid, and anything but dull. He finally settled on a "murder" of teenage girls; especially fitting since the hard ground would be murder on his aging back. He chuckled at his heights of cleverness. This was the third such trek since it became warm enough that one could not see her breath in the air.

Olivia, consulting with her co-leader, said, "Sam, we should grab more wood before it gets dark." Samantha quickly agreed, saying simply, "K. Let's go dudes." The crew assembled, the late afternoon sun glinting off earrings, bangles, sparkle nail polish, and Super Lickable Shiny Lip Gloss. Terry had but one ring, a claddagh ring given to her by her grandmother. She felt somehow underdressed when compared to the others, despite being nearly completely covered in her jeans and sweater. Marching in a few smaller groups, the girls set out on their mission.

Calls of "Eww, look at this gnarly bug!" "Spider! Get it off!" and "lookout for quicksand" could be heard amidst giggles and snapping twigs. Sam called out, "Hey, Prudie, there's a huge dead tree over here! Come help me!" Knowing "Prudie" referred to her, Terry rolled her eyes and ambled over, and the rest of the girls followed suit. A shriek rang out as fifteen-year-old Hannah found the skeleton of a dead raccoon. "OMIGOD! look at this thing!" Hannah cried with equal parts horror and wonder. "Ugh. What would a stupid dog be doing out here?" queried Izzy. "It's not a dog, brainless, the tail is still there! HELLO! Raccoon!" Olivia used that emphasis again, learning its uses were virtually limitless. The tree had apparently fallen some years ago, as there was considerable growth from beneath it.

After the absolute horror of the carcass, the girls refocused on the task at hand, breaking larger branches off the tree. Isadore began wielding a stick as a machete, "Yah!" she shouted as she carved out a path through the dense greenery that the dead tree allowed to grow. She was waist deep in shrubbery, and playing Indiana Jones now. The girls were beginning to head back with varying armloads of firewood, much with the shrubbery still clinging.

Terry, Olivia, and Izzy dropped their respective piles near the fire, as did the rest of the girls. The near-constant chatter ebbed and flowed like waves on a beach. Most of the conversation revolved around boys, that most curious of creatures; gross and cool, stupid and funny, as boys could be. Often the girls talked in hushed tones about what they had done with boys. Some of the girls had done things Terry did not even know about.

James and a couple of the other parents swung around to camp Jabber Jaw, as James had taken to calling it, to be sure the girls were ok, make s'mores, and tell some ghost stories. The s'mores were accompanied with muffled squeals of delight, and the stories were punctuated with screams of thrilled terror. Slowly, the girls began to nod off, and the low chatter subsided. Most of the girls were asleep, but Terry, Isadore, and Liv still found more to talk about. Olivia's last words before nodding off were, "the outdoors make me itch." Izzy yawned and agreed, "me too. Goodnight dudes." Terry's breathing had already leveled off, signaling her voyage into dreamland.

The following day, Sunday, was loosely planned by the adults, and was filled with hiking, stories, and general fun. James would stop at various points, informing his less than enthusiastic charges of the significance of a historical site, or the medicinal qualities of a plant. He wondered, out loud this time, how girls' eyes could stay attached inside their heads despite being rolled so often toward the sky. He marveled too, at how any of these girls were able to simultaneously hike, talk, chew gum, and text on their phones all at once. By the evening, it was time to head home, so the weary girls piled into the various waiting vehicles to be shuttled home. The convoy home was uneventful, aside from too many bathroom and food stops for James' liking.

The phone rang early Monday morning, and despite being soundly asleep, Terry leapt up to get it, but was beaten by her mother. She listened to her mother's end of the conversation without much interest until her mother's face turned grave. "Oh dear!" said Madeline. Then, "You have got to be kidding me!" Terry's attention was fully on her mother and she heard, "every single one of the girls?! Really? well, no Terry has not shown any signs, but I will check her over thoroughly." The thought of being checked over thoroughly made Terry's skin crawl. What was it? Did they all have ticks? Or worse, maybe some disease from being so close to the dead raccoon? Oh . . . My . . . God! Whatever it was, Terry had to know this instant. Terry looked expectantly at her mother as she heard, "ok Jen, I will. Thanks for letting us know so quickly."

"Honey, did you and the girls go anywhere without the adults?" asked Madeline gently. The gentle tone made things even worse, as far as Terry was concerned. The last time her Mom used it had been when the goldfish died. She had been seven then. Terry was frantic inside now, but said, "not that I can think of Mom. Why?" "Well, it seems that every single one of the girls on the trip have the rash, and I suppose it could be a coincidence, but how could they all have gotten it . . ." Terry tried to break in, "Mom" but Madeline was rolling now, "But not one of the adults has even a small rash, . . ."

"Mom! Stop! What rash? What is going on?" She was almost shouting now.

"Oh, honey, I am sorry. I guess I got carried away. It seems that the other girls all have a case of poison ivy. Can you think of anywhere you were where you may have come into contact with it?"

Terry careened from near-hysteria to hoots of laughter so suddenly her mother almost got vertigo. The laughter started as a soundless gasp, and escalated immediately to a full on belly laugh. Tears of relief and joyfulness streamed down Terry's face. Now it was Madeline's turn to break in. "Terry Jean Thomas, what on Earth is the matter with you? Stop this instant before I call the loony bin for a pick up."

"Oh Mom," Terry blurted out, "don't you see? All the other girls were wearing their so short, but not too short shorts and tank tops, and they were calling me Prudie, like they always do, because of my sweater, and then we went and got firewood . . ." she paused to breathe, and the thought of Izzy's butt covered in a rash made her snort and start laughing uncontrollably again. "And there was a dead raccoon, and a bunch of bushes by the tree, and . . ." Now Madeline was beginning to get the picture, and she began to laugh as well. Within seconds, the two were in the throes of a mother and daughter laugh fest, with no sign of slowing.

"Poor Olivia," the older Thomas girl said mockingly, "you know how sensitive her skin is!" This sent them both back over the edge again, bringing forth gales of unadulterated laughter.

The two laughed for some time, until they both hurt. Then they embraced each other, hugging tightly. As they held on, a thought came happily into Terry's mind.

"Maybe Prudie is OK after all."

The Price of Friendship Part 6
By Norval Joe

Mrs. Walker ran the video forward, again, but in slow motion. Chad walked onto the screen and began to speak with someone. It was unclear who it was he spoke to. There was a hazy spot in front of him that flashed static a few times. When the haziness cleared, Chads friends approached. They spoke together for a few minutes and all walked away.
"Hmm. I might have guessed." Mrs. Walker said and looked at Amy's dad, who was nodding his head.
She reversed the video again, past the point where Chad first walked in. The teacher entered some commands on the keyboard and recorded the portion where Chad talked with the hazy patch. She copied the recorded piece to a usb mini drive and plugged in into a laptop that was set up next to the other key board. Mrs. Walker started a program on the laptop and opened the file on the mini drive.
"Oh, mom, that's the game player that Derrick gave me," he said pointing to the small black box, sitting next to the lap top that Mrs. Walker was working on.
She looked up. A smile lighted the teacher's normally stony face. "Yes. I have something to show you about that, in a moment. But first, let's see what this video will reveal."
She typed some commands on the keyboard and waited while the video processed. In the middle of the lap top's screen was a grey box with a count down timer in it. When the timer reached zero, Chad image appeared. He stood under the security camera in the library. Every few seconds the image refreshed as time elapsed slowly in the video. Suddenly, standing next to Chad on the screen, was a tall, pale, dark haired boy.
"That's him," Chad shouted, then looked sheepish at making such an exclamation in the small room.
"Thank you, Chad. He doesn't look familiar to me. How about you, Ted? Miriam? No, I didn't think so. Well, let me load his image and run some checks."
She drug the cursor across the screen and blocked Derricks image to include his head and shoulders. She copied it and opened another program on the laptop. She pasted Derricks image into an empty box and clicked the 'run' button.
The picture of Derrick blurred as image after image of other people were overlaid on it in rapid succession. Measurements and calculations continuously ran across the bottom of the screen . When the overlays stopped, a red progress bar moved across the bottom of the screen. When it reached 100%, Derricks face disappeared, and the words, 'no exact match' appeared in large letters across the screen.
"Of course, they wouldn't send an known operative. Especially, since there aren't many the right age. I'll look for a family match." Mrs. Walker said and entered a few new commands.
A table appeared quickly on the screen. At the bottom of the table it said, 95% probability match, Rossanour family genetics.
"Hmmm." Was all the old teacher said. She looked at Chad, and then at his mother. She wore the calculating look, that often warned the children in her class she was about to make a biting acidic observation at someone's expense. Instead, she turned back to the laptop. She opened the previous screen where Derrick and Chad both stood. She blocked Chad's head and shoulders, copied it and pasted it into the second program, as she had done with Derrick's image. Mrs. Walker went straight to the family genetics query.
The program ran its routine of overlaying images on Chad's. A table appeared on the screen. Mrs. Walker's face showed her trademarked smugness. She said, "Just as I suspected."
The table read, eyes, 100%, nose, 98%, mouth, 100%, ears, 97%, overall, 98% probability match, Lorantelle family genetics.
"You know, it figures." She said looking at the Sniders.
She looked piercingly at Chad's mother, "Mrs. Baker, where is Chads father?"
She folder her hands carefully in her lap, sighed and looked the older woman in the eye. "I don't know. Right when Chad was born, Steven, my husband, became moody. He was irritable all the time. At first, I tried talking with him about it, but it would just make him more angry. At the drop of a hat he would blow up and storm around the house ranting. It was difficult to follow what it was that made him so angry. After a while, I stopped asking.
"He started sleeping in another room on the nights that he came home from work. One day, he didn't come home at all. He didn't call or anything. I never saw him again. I assumed that he had just walked out on me. I never thought that I should call the police until months later when I went to legal services to find out how to get a divorce. They asked me for a copy of the missing persons report. I told them that I had left it at home, and that I would bring it in the following week. I was so embarrassed that I never went back."
She closed her eyes and shook her head. "I was so bitter back then about the neglect and isolation. I had just had a baby. It never occurred to me that something may have actually happened to him."
"Did you ever meet his family?" Mrs. Snider asked.
"No. He told me that he was an only child and that his parents were gone. We never spoke much about it. If I pressed him too much about it, he would get cagey and irritable."
Mrs. Walker had listened quietly while Chad's mother spoke. She dabbed at he eyes with a tissue and said, "My Jack was a Lorantelle as well. I miss him still. Well, anyway, your husband disappeared, what, thirteen years ago?"
"Yes, he did. But what has this got to do with Chad?" his mother asked.
"Right, this changes what we know. What we need to do is unchanged. Amy has some special responsibilities that she is destined to carry out. It doesn't surprise me that the Rossanours are trying to interfere." Mr. Snider said.
"Oh, dear. This isn't good." Mrs. Walker said. She got to her feet and held out the small black box for the others to see.
Everyone looked blankly back at her. She said, "If I understand this correctly, you have maybe 30 minutes to find the gateway and cross before it closes. When it closes, we may never find the right gate again. Chad, what do you have in your backpack?"
He listed the things he found in his backpack, "Umm, my phone, a sweatshirt, a notebook and some pens and pencils. Why?"
Mrs. Walker said with a serious, uncompromising look in her eyes, "Because you need to go now, and it would be best to take something with you to eat. You're likely to get hungry.
Chads mother stepped forward, "Go? Where do you think he is going?"
"Mom, I have to go. It's my fault that Derrick was able to take Amy," Chad said, adrenaline making his voice shaky.
His mother shook her head, and her voice had a note of pleading to it, "No, Mr. Snider said that it wasn't your fault. Besides Derrick tricked you, you don't need to feel responsible."
"I realize I don't know what I'm getting into, but I know this, Amy is my friend. I would trust her. I know that if she told me that I needed to jump out of the window and fly to the moon, I would, and I could. She wouldn't ask me to do something if it wasn't necessary.
"But she's not here," Chad continued, "so I have to trust her parents. I do trust them, Mom. Because of you."
"Me," she said. She had a shocked look on her face.
"Yes. You taught me to be honest and always tell the truth. You wouldn't expect anything of me without expecting it of yourself. I have to believe that Amy's parents are the same way, knowing Amy," said and held his gaze firmly locked on his mothers eyes. She stared back sternly, at first, and then softened. She looked at the ground at her feet.
She embraced him suddenly. "Chad. You don't even know where you will be going, or how you will get back."
She stepped back, but held onto his shoulders, "You must come back, as quickly as possible."
"Come with me," Mrs. Walker said and lead them down the hallway to the teachers lounge. They rummaged through the cupboards and refrigerator and found several granola bars, packages of top ramen, and some bottles of water. They loaded them all into the backpack.
At the front door, Mrs. Baker confronted Amy's father. "So how does he find your daughter, and how does he get back."
Time was short. Amy's father must felt it, he spoke rapidly, "Chad, here is as much as I know. This box is a key to get you through the first transition. It may get you through more, but you may need to find more keys along the way. You will have to make several transitions before you are able to return. Each transition is like a dimension.
"The world you are going to is very similar to this one. The people there have passed back and forth from this world for more than a thousand years.
"I'm sorry there isn't time to tell you more.
"This box that Derrick left. We don't know if he left it by mistake, or if he left it on purpose. It may help you learn vital information, and if may give you away. Until you find someone to teach you more about it, use it sparingly.
"Once you cross over, people who are working with use will know that you are there. They should already know that Amy is there. They will search you out to aid you. Just be careful about whom you give your trust, because it will be very hard to tell friend from foe," Amy's dad said.
"Mom, here's Mikes phone. You may need it," Chad said and started to hand the phone to his mother.
"No, Chad, hold onto it. Like I said, the worlds are very similar. You may be able to use it there, or contact us here. Now, get down to the ball field. Wait only a minute, and if I have not caught up with you, find the gateway. I need to check one thing quickly," Mr Snider said, looking at the teacher.
"But how will I find the gateway? I've already run the length of the nature trail," Chad asked.
"Hold the key in front of you. It should make the gate clear. You didn't have it with you last time. Now go," he said and watched them run off.
He turned to Mrs. Walker, "Dolores, I may need to cross through in another direction. Keep a watch over Chads mother. Draw from the fund to help her our financially, as much as she will let you. Both she and her son are taking a huge risk here. Also, find out what unit her older son is in, and make sure that we keep him alive. We may need him as a back up. He is as much Lorantelle as Chad is."
The old woman nodded, as Mr. Snider ran after the boy and his mother, and said to herself, "Well. We have the Lorantelle involved. That gives me hope."

The Keys to Happiness Part 5
By: Jeff Hite

Marie stood on the surface of the planet and marveled at all that had been accomplished. She Knew that in the time since end of the last century and now, an entire civilization had grown up on what would have been a lifeless frozen planet. They still wore EV suits outside of the domes but, they did not have to carry their own air supply, just a purification unit, which made trips like this much easier.
She looked up at the Icarus mirrors that shined down on the little ice ball of a planet as the bumped along and marveled at how they were able to capture so much of the sun's energy and redirect it down to the planet. Europa , it turned out, was not only the solar system's only other life giving planet, but also the best one of settlement by humans because of the water and small rocky outcroppings. It served humans further by providing if not the most efficient fuel, fuel none the less they they con continue to venture toward the outer planets and beyond.
Churchill had not wanted her to come with him to the surface, fearing that what they might meet down here would be dangerous. It was odd, he even though he was used to being alone, how much he seemed to have enjoyed her company, and how very protective of her he had become. But, so far it had not been the danger of whatever it was that they were looking for that bothered her. It had been the culture. Despite the very forward nature of their technology, the culture seemed to be backwards. The men all wore, dark suits, that covered nearly every inch of skin, and any time they were outside of a home or workspace wore hats, almost as if this where centuries before. The women were worse. The most, immodest of them wore ankle length skits and sleeves that came to their wrists. the more conservative of them, continued this trend, but added head scarves and some of them even wore veils, that if they didn't exactly hide their faces obscured their features.
"I don't understand it, an out post of humanity, with the height of human technology, and the cover themselves up as if this was the nineteen hundreds." She had railed when the customs agent had insisted that she dress more appropriately when they arrived.
"Marie, they are human, but they are not earthlings not it the strictest scene, they have developed customs that are different than those of earth. You don't have to come with me if you don't want to."
"No, I won't be left behind, like some little woman."
"Alright then, is it really such a hardship to dress differently?"
"You try getting this skirt into EV suit, she said lifting it up almost to her knees. The custom agent had turned his head out of politeness at this outburst, but it had annoyed her even more. "What is wrong, you have never seen a knee cap?"
"Marie please. They just have different traditions here. You have to remember that they have been here for two generations already, they have been seperated from those of earth for that long." It seemed entirely wrong to her, but he did have a point, they had been seperated from earth for long enough for traditions that might have come from a need to keep warm, to have become a habit, but it did seem more than a little backwards.
It turned out that the EV suits had been designed or redesigned to accomdate the more modest attire, and that they were very comforatble.
The man that they were looking for lived in a dome of the edge of the Icarus zone, he had paid for the location himself, and never came into the main station. They could take car most of the way, but there was a rock outcropping that they would have to cover on foot. The ride took the better part of three hour, even with the cars considerable speed, the Icarus zone covered nearly a third of one hemisphere.
"Are you sure you want to come with me," Churchhill asked as they stepped out of the car? "I mean he is not expecting us and we really have no idea what to expect with him."
"I am sure, besides what am I going to do sit here in the car and wait for you," She said trying not to sound like a petulant child? "I will come with you, besides I have come all this way, I want to know what it is as well."
They walked the rest of the way in silence. There were no traps no alarms or any sentries, at least none that they could see. The dome was about a hundred meters from the outcropping with nothing between it and them. If someone was inside watching them, they would have plenty of time to observe the visitors as they came.
But, nothing happened. When they approached the airlock, its outer doors opened and allowed them access. There was no to code pad on the inside to disallow access to anyone, only the controls to the airlock. They closed the outer doors and cycled the system on, and started to strip out of their EV suits.
"Churchill, are you alright?"
"What, oh umm yeah I'm alright."
"What is it?"
"This is very odd. There is no security at all." He said as he hung he suit on the peg for it built into the wall. She noticed his hand shaking
"That is because I have never needed any." Came a small voice, as the inner door slid open.
The three of them stood there starring at one another for a long while and no one spoke. Suddenly, Marie realized that the man on the other side of the still closed inner screen was starring at her, If she had been on the moon or Mars when she took the EV suit she would have been wearing next to nothing. and she was for the first time glad of the modest dress.
"What are you starring at," She asked finally? After a very long moment he seemed to find his voice.
"I was expecting him. But you, I was not expecting. I have never needed any security, out here, I never expected that a woman would come looking for me, although I don't know why." He was older than both of them combined and so was the small pistol he held in his hand, but it looked deadly just the same with nothing between it and then but the flimsy screen. "Please, don't make any sudden moves, these things," he said raising this pistol slightly, "are particularly messy and can do a great deal of damage to one of these domes. Finish hanging up your suits and come in side, one at at time."
They did as he asked in silence. When they were both inside and the doors to the airlock were shut, he lower the weapon a bit and smiled uneasily.
"Look we mean you no harm."
"I know about you Churchill. I have known about you for years, it is her that I am worried about."
"Me, I don't mean you any harm either."
"Who are you?" he demanded, "I was only able to get your name and home of record for the incoming manifest. You are not an agent, because then I would not have been able to get that much."
"Sir, please I meet her on Earth station four a few months ago when I was looking for her brother."
"Her brother, he said confused."
"Yes, he was the station biochemist that you consulted about fifteen years ago." His brow wrinkled in concentration, for a few moments and Marie felt a drop sweat slide down her back. In years she had not been this nervous. She knew that her life hung on what a man that she barely knew said about her, on the little bit that he knew about her. And suddenly she wished that she had been more forcefully about them getting to know each other instead of respecting his privacy. "John Wallace, you consulted him fifteen years ago about a filter problem that you were having," Churchill said as the mans face seemed to harden a bit more.
"Wallace, yes I remember but that his not his sister. Her name was O'Keefe."
"My Married name, I have not gone by Wallace in years. I have been O'Keefe since I was 17." At the mention of her age his face seemed to soften a bit, and he put the gun down.
"That would explain why I found no mention of your maiden name, I only searched back until you were of age."
"I was married young. It was right before he was shipped of to fight in the Mars conflict." She said breathing deeply for the first time.
"That still does not explain why you are hear."
"I tracked down her brother, and I waited for him on the station, but he was dead. She was bringing his remains to be spread in space, and to take care of his affairs."
"My brother had always wanted to travel the outter solar system, and since Churchill was coming out here, I accopanied him," She finished. "I needed someone and Churchill didn't mind me tagging long." Now that she said it, it sounded like an incredibly flimsy excuse. The old man seemed to be thinking the same thing because his hand tightened on the gun again. But finally he seemed to relax a bit.
"Why are you here?" There was a long silence as they tried to figure out who he was talking to and how to answer the question.
"Well it it obvious that you have not used it." She blurted out.
"What?" both men said in unison
"Well you are not happy so it is obivious that you have not used what ever it is that you have." They all stood in stunned silence for.
"Then you don't know what it is do you." He asked, this time he put the gun down on the table and stepped around to greet them.


Jeff Hite said...

This week's stories illustrates a point that I have long held to be true. Reading a story is a wonderful thing, but some stories were meant to told aloud. There are things that you can get from the stories this week if read them and other things that you can only get when you hear them. I snickered to myself as I read both Norval's and Eric's stories this week, but as I was preparing the podcast, I actually laughed out loud with tears involved as I listened to these two readings. This of course woke the baby, but the delay was well worth it because the stories made me happy. In much the same way the story a few weeks ago written By Norval Joe, that brought tears to my eyes, and put a knot in my stomach as I listened to the girl contemplate suicide. I read that story and enjoy it even with the pain it brings, but I listen to that story and it has a much more profound effect. I have to say that this is the reason I podcast the stories. This is why I listen to fiction as much as I read it. There are just some things that you can only get from a good story telling.
So thank you to all of the authors this week, and every week or write and record such wonderful stories. said...

You do most of the work Jeff. Thank YOU!